Helga Hošková-Weissová

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Helga Hošková-Weissová, also Helga Weiss, (born 1929) is a Czech artist, and a Holocaust survivor. Raised in Prague, on December 4, 1941 she and her parents were interned in the Terezin ghetto.[1][2] Although they were separated in the camp, it was eventually possible to see one another sometimes, and exchange clandestine notes.[1][2] It is estimated that 15,000 children (younger than 16) went into Terezin.[2] Less than 100 of the Terezin children deported to Auschwitz survived.[1]

In October 1944, aged 15, she and her mother were moved to Auschwitz. As new victims arrived, they were sorted... sent to the left for the ovens, right to live longer. The person sorting that day may have been the infamous Josef Mengele.[2] Whoever it was, Helga convinced him she was old enough to live longer, claiming to be 18, and was told to go to the right.[2] She also successfully claimed that her mother was younger than she really was.[3]

Using her gift for painting and drawing, while at Terezin Helga wrote a diary, including images from her life in the camps[3][4] which survived the war.[1][2] After ten days[1] she was transferred from Auschwitz to Freiberg near Dresden, an auxiliary camp of Flossenbürg labor camp[1] where she escaped death again when she was forced to join a 16-day "death march" to the camp at Mauthausen.[5] She remained there through the camp's liberation on 5 May 1945 by the US Army.

After World War II ended, Helga went back to Prague, and studied painting with the Czech artist Emil Filla[4][6] from 1950. She worked as an artist and raised a family.[2] After the revolution in November 1989, she exhibited her art many times both at home, and in Austria, Germany, Italy.[1]

In 1993 she was awarded an honorary Doctorate by the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, for her lifetime achievements. In 2009 she was awarded the Josef Hlávka medal. In October 2009 Vaclav Klaus presented her with the Medal of Merit.[7]

In February 2013, in her 89th year, she was living in the flat she was born in, the flat from which she was taken in 1944.[2] Her account of her experiences, "Helga's Diary: A Young Girl's Account of Life in a Concentration Camp", was published by W. W. Norton & Company on April 22, 2013.[3][5][8]


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